The former Manchester United striker rues the omission of the England talisman against Real Madrid, while describing the tackle that lead to Nani’s red card as “innocuous”
By Alex Young
Former Manchester United striker Dion Dublin insists Sir Alex Ferguson made a mistake by not starting Wayne Rooney in Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 second-leg loss to Real Madrid.
The 27-year-old was named among the substitutes for the visit of the Spanish champions, with the manager favouring Danny Welbeck, Nani and Ryan Giggs in support of main striker Robin van Persie.
And Dublin, who played for United during a two-year spell in the 1990s, feels that the absence of Rooney’s class had a “massive” impact on the tie.
“Yes, Rooney should have started,” Dublin told Goal.com.
“I do not know why he was omitted. Sir Alex picked his team to win the game and if they had then [Rooney’s omission] would not have got mentioned.
“It was a massive deal that he wasn’t picked to start. Rooney is a world-class footballer; give him the opportunity to play on the world-class stage.”
With the tie finely poised at 1-1 from the first leg, United added to their away-goal advantage when Sergio Ramos turned the ball into his own net in the opening stages of the second half.
However, with United in the ascendancy, Nani was shown a straight red card by Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir after an aerial challenge with Madrid defender Alvaro Arbelo in the 56th minute.
Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo went on to turn the game around and Dublin pinpointed the sending-off as the catalyst, calling the challenge “completely innocuous”.
“[I am] disappointed that the referee couldn’t see what everyone else saw, which was a yellow card at worst,” the former United man added.
“He has given Nani a red card for something which was completely innocuous.
“It wasn’t dangerous. His foot was high but there was no malice in it. The referee spoiled the game.
“Nani had no idea where the player was. He had his eye on the ball all the way.
“It was never a sending- off. I don’t think it was even a yellow card.
“If Real Madrid came out, played United off the park and beat them 4-0, Sir Alex would hold his hands up and say ‘well done’.
“But United were beaten by the referee.”
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